Belfast's big building firms Lagan Construction Group and H&J Martin set to 'finalise merger'
Exclusive: Firms first revealed back in December that they had entered into talks about a potential merger
Two of Northern Ireland's biggest construction firms are soon set to finalise a merger following weeks of talks, it is understood.
Lagan Construction Group and H&J Martin revealed back in December that they had entered into talks about a potential merger.
But it's now understood the Belfast firms are in the closing stages of reaching a deal.
Economist John Simpson said the expected deal was "another sign of rationalisation within the construction industry".
"In other instances, we have seen some firms disappearing," he said. "But this is something more reassuring -H&J Martin may have a continuing existence as part of the Lagan Construction Group."
And he said it would make Lagan an "even stronger player" within Northern Ireland's construction industry.
"It means that Lagan becomes an even larger player in construction in Northern Ireland," he said. "It's an industry where we have big players that still haven't recovered.
"Many of the firms would like to see the Executive increasing its capital spending."
Neither firm wished to comment on progress made on the deal.
Lagan Construction and H&J Martin both featured in last year's Belfast Telegraph Top 100 companies, and worked on projects for the London 2012 Olympics.
H&J Martin is one of Northern Ireland's oldest firms - founded in 1840.
It's been behind a number of big-name projects and also carried out the fit-out of the International Broadcast Centre for London 2012.
Lagan Construction Group - which is led by chief executive Colin Loughran - announced pre-tax profits of £4.3m earlier this year, despite another challenging time for the industry.
The family-owned business was established in 1962 by Peter Lagan, and also worked on a bridge between the Olympic Park and the main stadium for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.